§ Order for Committee read,
§ House in Committee of Supply,
§ (4.) 109,200l. Disembodied Militia.
§ MR. FREDERICK PEEL
said, there were nineteen regiments of militia still disembodied; but who were liable to be called on to serve a certain number of days in the year, and who therefore required a provision for their payment.
§ Vote agreed to.1662
(5.) Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum not exceeding 70,716l., be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expense of the Ordnance Office, which will come in course of payment during the year ending the 31st day of March, 1856.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, it would perhaps be in the recollection of the Committee that when he brought forward the Ordnance Estimates in March last, he postponed the Vote for the Ordnance establishment, it being the intention of the Government to make certain alterations in the constitution of the whole of the War Department. The Estimate he now had to propose was for the establishment of the Ordnance Office as changed according to the intentions then expressed. He thought that the present was a convenient time to state the changes which had been made in the organisation of the military departments of the country. In the first place he imagined that it would not be necessary for him to dwell on the necessity of some change, for that was universally admitted. Two Commissions and one Committee of that House had reported within the last two years, expressing opinions in favour of large and important changes, and only last Session many distinguished Members on both sides of the House had expressed the same opinion, and he was happy to think it was no party question, for one of those Gentlemen was the right hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington), who in July last expressed an opinion with regard to the existing constitution of the War Department, and the absolute necessity for some change being made. At the commencement of the present war the administration of the army was divided into five separate departments. The discipline and government of the army were divided between the Commander in Chief and the Master General of the Ordnance, while the Secretary at War had large and important duties to perform, as had also the Master General and the Board of Ordnance, and the Commissariat fed the army; but all the departments were, disconnected, and there was no union among them or central control over them. The results of every system of organisation which must follow divided authority had been felt in those departments, for it was obvious that even without difference of opinion of principle there must be difference of energy in the various departments which was sufficient to frustrate all unity 1663 of action. Suppose that an army was fully equipped in every other respect, and that there was a failure in the supply of boots; or that a field train was complete in every other respect except that there were no fuses, all the rest of the equipment would go for nothing. If anything was clear it was that in military government the value of central organisation could hardly be over-estimated. In addition to the division which existed between the different departments and the military officers who managed them, some of the departments themselves were not so constituted as to promote energy and unity of action in the discharge of their duties. The Board of Ordnance, for instance, was divided into three departments, with an officer of the Board in charge of each separate department; but yet as every order was given in the name of the Board, every member of it was responsible for all the departments; and if anything went wrong in any one of them, the colleagues of the officer at the head of that department must either be responsible for what they did not approve, or interfere with that which, according to the practice of the office, they had no right to do. It was obvious that the first object in the reorganisation of such a system was the establishment of a central control, that one mind should preside over all the departments, with full power to order the execution of their duties rapidly and promptly. It was also obvious that the military departments had failed under the old system, owing to the want of real responsibility in those who managed them. It was almost impossible, till within the last few months, to discover who was responsible for anything. Whether it was a question of fuses or of boots, or anything else, and the question arose as to who was responsible, the difficulty was the same. Again, there was a considerable loss of time by the system of intercommunication between the different departments by regular official letters, and it was found necessary to make a change in that respect. The first change which was made in the military system was the separation of the Secretaryship of War from that of the Colonies. After that the Commissariat was transferred from the Treasury to the War Department, and when his noble Friend (Lord Panmure) came into office, he proceeded to develop and carry further the changes which the Government had for many months under consideration. The first point to be con- 1664 sidered was the division of the command of the scientific corps from that of the rest of the army; and the first step was to place the Artillery and Engineers under the management of the Horse Guards. By that means, not only was unity in the government of the army secured, but it opened to those distinguished corps advantages from which they had hitherto been shut out, but which were open to those corps in every other country in Europe. He did not know whether the Committee was aware that not with standing the distinguished merits of those corps, General Philips, in 1777, was the last Artillery officer who had held the command of a division. It would be recollected how many distinguished commanders in the French army had been officers of Artillery—not to mention the great Napoleon himself, Marmont, Foy, Bosquet, and others, all belonging to that corps. In the Sardinian and Austrian armies the same course was pursued, and he could see no reason for, or any benefit in, those corps remaining in the state of isolation in which they had hitherto stood, and why they should not be allowed to compete for the highest appointments which were open to the most eminent officers. But the change by which those corps were placed under the Commander in Chief, and adding to his duties those of Master General of the Ordnance, involved certain other changes. Till the present time the Commander in Chief had no official knowledge of the defences of the country. By the new organisation, the Secretary of State for War and the Commander in Chief, in conjunction with the Inspector General of Fortifications and the Director General of Artillery, would decide on all questions of fortifications. Hitherto the Commander in Chief had only been responsible for the small arm of the army, now he would be responsible for all the arms of the service, and no alteration could be made in them without his consent and permission. He now came to the civil departments of the army. The head of those departments was the Secretary for War, who had authority and jurisdiction, and direct control over all the departments communicating with them not by official letters, but by means of memoranda or personal interviews with those under him. The heads of each office would have under their control all the subordinates of their departments, and could make returns to the Secretary for War with regard to the progress of the orders he had given. Now, 1665 that was a matter of greater importance than it appeared at first sight to be, for it was found last year that the number of instances in which orders which had been given had not been executed was very great indeed, and it was most important to guard against such a state of things in future. He now came to the subordinate departments under the control and management of the Secretary of State. He begged to remark that an objection he had heard made with reference to the arrangement of subordinate departments was founded on a gross fallacy. It was said that civilians were placed in positions where military duties were to be discharged, but that was by no means the case. In all the subordinate military departments military men were placed. The mere fact of the director general of contracts or stores sitting in a military department did not make it necessary that he should be a military man. Every department which had military duties to perform was under a military man, and every civil department under a civilian. In the first place, the department to which was entrusted all military works and buildings was placed under the Inspector General of Fortifications, under whom were two deputy inspectors, one of whom was charged with the department of fortifications, and the other with the erection and custody of barracks. That was an important change from the old system. The barrack-masters used to be under the control of the Board of Ordnance, but they would now be under the Inspector General of Fortifications, and there had been added to his other duties that of Barrack-master General, including of course the management of the barrack-masters and the whole control of that department. The next change was in the direction of the materiel of the Royal Artillery, which had been placed under the Director General of Artillery. Therefore, as the Ordnance supplied not only the land forces but the navy with arms, the naval department would be under a Naval Director General of Artillery, whose duties, as regarded the navy, would be the same as those performed towards the army by the Director General of the Royal Artillery. Both those officers would be members of the Scientific Committee, and the Director General of the Royal Artillery would be vice-president of the committee, and with the assistance of the able and scientific men on that committee he would 1666 decide on all questions in connection with naval and military artillery. The next department was that of Director General of Contracts, who would have the control of all the contracts connected with the military departments and the conduct of them, under the orders of the Secretary of State, for all purposes. The next department was that of the clothing of the army, which would be under the control of a Director General of Clothing. To him would be entrusted the providing the custody, and the issue of the clothing of the army, and the sealed patterns—all requisitions would be made to him; he would have the inspection and the custody of the clothing, and all complaints relative to the clothing were to be made to him; and he would do all that had hitherto been done by the colonels of regiments, the Board of General Officers, the Adjutant General, and the Secretary at War. The Store Department, which was entrusted with the custody of all other stores except clothing, would be under a Director General of Stores, and the accounts of the whole army would be under the control of an Accountant General. The head of each department would be held responsible for the perfect efficiency of every branch of his administration, and for the conduct of all business relating thereto. There had therefore been entrusted to him the important function of recommending for promotion all clerks, storekeepers, and other officers under him. The recommendations made by him must of course be accompanied by a statement of the reasons upon which they were founded, but it was the intention of his noble Friend the Secretary of State to follow the advice given to him by those gentlemen, where he considered it satisfactory upon this important point. In ordinary matters the heads of departments would act upon their own authority and responsibility, but in matters of importance they would receive directions from the Minister of War or from his representative—the chief of the civil staff. The chief of each department was to cause a journal or day-book to be kept, in which should be entered a correct list of all communications received daily, with a brief description of the particular subjects to which they related, so that it might be at once seen whether the orders that had been given had been executed, and what was the state of the business intrusted to the department. With regard to the manufacturing departments at Woolwich, their 1667 old constitution had not been very much altered, and the department of gun factories, carriages, laboratories, small arms, and powder remained much as they were. The Committee would see that the principle upon which all those changes had been made was, simply, that a central control over the whole of our military administration had been established, and at the same time the principle of individual responsibility had been carried out in the fullest possible manner, for the head of every subordinate department had his duties clearly defined and marked out, and was responsible to the Secretary of State for their efficient execution. It would be utterly impossible for the future that there should be a failure in any part of the equipment or matériel of the army without its being known at once who was responsible, and that responsibility was made real by the head of each department being entrusted with such power that he was enabled in a great degree to select his own instruments and to carry out his arrangements in his own way, and was merely responsible to the Secretary of State for the working of his department. Of course, as that new system had been in operation such a short time it would be useless to enter into any statement as to the improvements effected by the alteration. He could only state that, so far as his own observation had gone, there had been a very considerable change, and he thought that business connected with the military departments was now done much more rapidly than was formerly the case. Their experience, however, of the working of the new system was too short to enable him to bring forward such examples as would be convincing to the Committee at present. It was sufficient to say that the principles upon which the system was founded were those of reason and common sense, and he believed that in the course of a very few months it would be found easy to show that from it the country had derived great and important benefits.
said, that on the 22nd of May a Bill had been brought into the House and read a first time, entitled the Ordnance Board Bill, and it was proposed to proceed with it immediately; but as the Bill was not printed, he proposed that some delay should take place in proceeding with it. Since the 22nd of May, he had often urged that some statement of the details of the measure, which went to the entire abolition of the Board of Ordnance, might be 1668 given, and that the principles on which the alteration was made should be stated. The House had been occupied with all sorts of subjects—many of them unconnected with the war—and the noble Lord at the head of the Government had not found an opportunity for putting the country in possession of the arrangements made in time of war with regard to a most important office. It was now so late in the Session, that after the statement which had been made that night of the changes which had been effected, all hope of any further discussion was at an end, and the benefit of any suggestions which might have been made in that House would be lost, and on the Government must consequently rest the responsibility until next Session, whether the plan failed or succeeded. He had listened with the greatest possible interest, and, at the same time, with some degree of surprise, to the statement of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Monsell). The hon. Gentleman had stated reasons why certain departments of the army had failed; but those failures had been prophesied more than a year ago. On the 31st of January, 1854, Earl Grey in another place said—I can say, from my own experience, having for many years held the office of Secretary of War and Secretary of State for the War Department, that the urgency of some reform in the constitution of those departments is much greater than is generally supposed. If this were the proper time I for it, I could lay before your Lordships cases of mismanagement and of evils which have existed for the last fifty years, directly traceable to this vicious organisation of these departments; and I could adduce facts proving those evils, which, I think, would astonish your Lordships and the country. I hope, therefore, this most important subject has already occupied the attention of Her Majesty's Government, and that they will be prepared either to propose to Parliament, or to adopt by the authority of the Crown, and communicate to Parliament—for much may, I believe, be done by the authority of the Crown—that in one way or the other they will lose no time in introducing an amended organisation of these departments. If they do not, I venture to predict, from the want of unity in the management of departments closely connected with each other, and the dilatory and cumbrous arrangements for the transaction of business, that before we have been many months engaged in serious war, it will assuredly lead to some calamitous results."—[3 Hansard, cxxx. 62.]All that the hon. Gentleman had stated, was stated by Earl Grey on that occasion. Afterwards, when the pressure of public feeling was too strong for the Government, they, as he thought, reluctantly separated the War Department from that of the Colonies, and a fourth Secretary of State was created. But even then, the Secretary at 1669 War maintained that, in consequence of the diminution of the business connected with the Colonies, the Colonial Minister could have continued to perform the duties of the War Department, an opinion which was controverted by the noble Lord the Member for Totness (Lord Seymour) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington), who had himself been Secretary for the Colonies. Of the value of the change which stopped at the creation of a fourth Secretary of State, and left the departments as they were with their responsibilities undefined, the experience of the last nine months, and the evidence of the ex-Ministers before the Sebastopol Committee, there was abundant proof. The noble Lord the Member for London (Lord J. Russell) in November, wrote to Lord Aberdeen, and said—I am of opinion that the House of Commons would expect, after six or seven months of deliberation, a final arrangement of the War Department.But the Sebastopol Committee remark—Your Committee can find no trace of these deliberations, and any evils that may have resulted from delay in such arrangements are therefore very properly laid to the charge of the Cabinet.The late Government went out of office without submitting any plan to the House for the proper constitution of the War Department, and yet the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Monsell), who, having held office under the late Government and under the present, spoke with some authority, referred to the failure of the War Department, gave his reasons why that failure had taken place, and called upon the House and the country to agree with him that, under any system half modelled and unsettled, disasters could not have been avoided, and must have been expected by any man who laid claim to the character of a statesman. So far as he (Mr. Stafford) was concerned, having witnessed abroad and ascertained at home the causes and effects of a confusion of departments, he thought that at a much earlier period many beneficial changes might have been introduced into the constitution of the War Departments, and it was not the fault of the Opposition side of the House that the opportunity had been neglected, and the period allowed to pass by when such changes might have been effected. He trusted that the sanguine anticipations at present entertained by his hon. Friend would be realised, and though the merit 1670 might be less now than it would have been at an earlier period, he hoped the result would be fortunate, and that the War Office as at present constituted would do more towards saving the lives, ameliorating the sufferings, and increasing the comforts of our soldiers, than the unhappy arrangements which existed previous to the entrance into office of the present Government. At the same time there was one department to which he wished particular attention to be directed. In the evidence given by the right hon. Member for South, Wiltshire (Mr. S. Herbert), before the Sebastopol Committee, the following definition was given of the relations of the Secretary at War with the Secretary of State for War:—The relation of the Secretary at War with the Commander in Chief is really that of control or check upon the expenditure of the army. At present the Secretary-ship at War is not abolished, but it is held simultaneously with the Secretaryship of State by Lord Panmure; and in many Acts of Parliament duties are imposed upon the Secretary at War which, unless those Acts are repealed, could not be performed at all.Subsequently in answer to a question from the Committee, the right hon. Gentleman stated—If any extravagant expenditure was incurred by the order of the Secretary of State, it would be the duty of the Secretary at War to appeal to the Treasury to decide between them.He (Mr. Stafford) therefore understood that Lord Panmure was now Secretary for War and Secretary at War; and if, as Secretary for War, he was guilty of any extravagance, he would appeal to himself as Secretary at War to correct any such excess of duty! It was important that the financial position of Lord Panmure, with reference to himself or to some one else, should be defined, for he (Mr. Stafford) found that the noble Lord had not very well considered his business. On the 28th June, Lord Panmure stated that—We propose, therefore, to try another mode which, though entirely novel in the British army, is one from which we anticipate considerable success. The plan is this, that to all soldiers who shall be engaged in the field of action before the enemy—and this will, of course, apply at once to the army in the Crimea—double pay shall be given. I propose that 1s. a day shall be added to the pay of all men who are now before the enemy, and this addition will take place from the day when they landed in the Crimea. I do not propose that this addition shall go immediately into the pockets of the soldier. … I propose, therefore, that this additional pay shall be invested in the savings-banks in the country. If the soldier survives and returns to this country it will 1671 accumulate into a fund, which he will receive on his discharge; if he is pensioned he will have it in addition to his pension; and, if he unfortunately falls, it will be given to his representatives." [3 Hansard, cxxxix. 275.]That plan produced a great sensation in the army, and was received with great satisfaction. But a noble Lord having suggested that the sum required for carrying out such a plan would amount to something like 750,000l., Lord Panmure, on the 5th of July, stated thatit was one of the great features of this plan that the promised addition to the soldier's pay was to be given only to those engaged in actual war, or to those at present serving in the Crimea. Since he made that announcement, he had been informed by a great many military officers, to whose opinions he felt bound to listen, that unless the soldier got the pay into his own hands, the plan would not be likely to succeed. In the face of these representations, he did not think it would be right or proper for him to ask the nation to risk entering upon so great an expenditure, for the purpose of trying a plan which he was told by experienced officers, would perhaps fail to produce the result intended. But, on the other hand, putting at once into the soldier's hands an amount of pay increased to the extent which he had named, would, in his opinion, go far to affect the soldier's discipline; if he had too much money, he might find it pleasing, and perhaps convenient, to incur a breach of discipline. He (Lord Panmure) had, therefore, so far altered the scheme that, instead of investing a shilling a day for the soldier's benefit at a distant period, he now proposed immediately to put the additional sum of sixpence a day into the hands of the soldier as an extraordinary field allowance, precisely in the same way in which extraordinary field allowances were now paid to the officers. He proposed, instead of putting it into the savings-bank, to give the soldier the benefit of an arrangement which existed in the navy, and which was voluntary on the part of the men themselves, but encouraged by their officers; and to enable the soldier to allot any part of that sixpence to his family, instead of receiving it himself." [3 Hansard, cxxxix. 438.]Now, he confessed, he could not quite understand why Lord Panmure, before he promulgated his plan, did not honour with a consultation those Gentlemen who were found after its promulgation to be best acquainted with the subject. But, inasmuch as on the 28th of June, Lord Panmure proposed 1s., and on the 5th of July only 6d., it was only right that the House of Commons should know how far 50 per cent was to be struck off that expenditure at the mere suggestion of Lord Panmure. If the statement of the right hon. Member for South Wiltshire was correct, the only appeal in the case was from Lord Panmure as Secretary for War to Lord Panmure as Secretary at War. He hoped his hon. Friend (Mr. Monsell) would explain the 1672 financial position of the Secretary for War, and whether that functionary could sit in the House of Commons or not, a fact which had not been mentioned by his hon. Friend. If the Secretary for War was to have the whole financial control of the army, the Crown should be advised to let him be a Member of the House of Commons; but if he was necessarily to be a peer, and the whole of the financial details of the army rested with the two Gentlemen who represented the War Department in that House, he was not yet aware which of them was to have charge of the Estimates. But it would be recollected that the noble Lord the Member for London, in his correspondence with Lord Aberdeen, spoke of the gravity and importance of the position of any person who might be intrusted with that duty. During the last few months several gentlemen had stated at meetings connected with financial reform, that they had been offered, and had refused, the position which his hon. Friend (Mr. Monsell) now filled; and he could hardly imagine, from the manner in which those offers had been made and refused, that it had been the intention of the Government to place the whole financial department of the army in the hands of the Clerk of the Ordnance. The hon. Gentleman had not explained what would be the relative positions of the Clerk of the Ordnance and the Under Secretary for War, neither had the Committee been informed what would be the relative positions of the accountants of the Ordnance and of the army, or in what position the Deputy Secretary at War would be placed with regard to the Ordnance Department. Although great and radical changes had been introduced, he thought the Clerk of the Ordnance had not defined with sufficient distinctness the new functions which each department was to be called upon to discharge. He (Mr. Stafford) thought it desirable that more than one discussion should take place on such a very important subject. Lord Grey had declared, in another place, that it was impossible to criticise the plan proposed by Lord Panmure, which had to-night been submitted to that House by the Clerk of the Ordnance, without being in full possession of its details. Lord Panmure promised, on that occasion, to lay before the other House a memorandum explaining all the changes proposed; but the promise which, according to the ordinary channels of information, was then made by Lord Panmure, remained yet unredeemed. He 1673 considered it most desirable that the position of the Commander in Chief, with regard to the Secretary of State for War, should be clearly defined. Lord Hardinge protested, before the Committee of 1836, against the transfer of the Commissariat from the Treasury to the Department of the Secretary of State for War, but the noble Lord took no part in the recent discussions on that subject in the House of Lords. He thought, however, that the Committee ought to be informed whether, with regard to pensions, to the movements of troops, and to the recommendation of promotions, the position of the Commander in Chief would remain precisely as it was before those changes were introduced. The opinion of Lord Hardinge would have great weight with the country, for the most valuable improvements recently introduced in our military departments—the adoption of the Minié rifle, and the improvement and increase of the artillery force—were attributable to that noble Lord. He (Mr. Stafford) had not the least wish to oppose the Ordnance Estimates, or to embarrass the Government by any questions which they might feel reluctant to answer. The Government had chosen to postpone the statement of those matters until so late a period of the Session that there was no time for their discussion, and upon the Government, therefore, must the responsibility of those changes rest. He only hoped that the war would be carried on, during the recess, with statesmanlike foresight and prudence, and beyond the degree in which the Government had yet given any proof of their possessing those qualities.
§ MR. W. EWART
said, there was one point in which he thought our management had been very deficient, and that was in the application of the mechanical genius of the country to the conduct of the war. The method of contributing to the effect of warlike operations was peculiarly adapted, as he thought, to the English nation, with its great command of capital, its scientific knowledge and skilled labour, and its abundant stores of coal and iron. He had never yet understood the reason why the great gun of Mr. Nasmyth, which had been described as a most effective engine of warfare, had not been completed and brought into action. He had been told that at first the Government desired Mr. Nasmyth to proceed as quickly as possible with the construction of it; that he was then ordered to stop, and afterwards to go on again with 1674 it. He (Mr. Ewart) wished very much to be informed how the matter stood; but if it were considered that it would be impolitic to publish the intentions of Government with regard to it, he would only say that he hoped it was not left out of sight. Not only as a means of promoting our success in the present war, but even as a friend of peace, he was very anxious to see the full development of scientific agencies in war, for he believed nothing would be more likely to secure a long duration of peace than perfecting the destructive efficacy of the instruments of warfare. He believed that the employment of such means by England was what Russia had dreaded more than anything else, and the ablest chemists and mechanicians in the service of Russia had been devoting their efforts to furnish her with such weapons. Now, in that direction, surely, it was fitting that Great Britain should take the lead, and it was more than probable she might command success in it.
§ SIR GEORGE TYLER
said, he was glad to learn that an officer was now to be appointed in connection with the Ordnance Department, as Director General of Naval Artillery. In the Order in Council the commander of the Royal Artillery was styled Director General of the Royal Artillery, while the commander of the Naval Artillery was merely termed the Naval Director of Artillery. [Mr. MONSELL: The title of the officer in question was to be Naval Director of Artillery.] He had misunderstood the matter, then; but he could not see why a naval officer, as a scientific man, having very considerable responsibilities to sustain, and having to be in constant communication with the Admiralty, should not rank as equal with the military Director General of Artillery. He saw, however, that it was proposed to fix the salary of the Naval Director of Artillery at only 500l. a year. An officer of rank, high character, and scientific acquirements, would feel degraded in such a position. Lord Hardinge and other witnesses before the Sebastopol Committee had borne testimony to the importance and efficiency of the work done by Sir Thomas Hastings and other naval men in the Ordnance; and it appeared that three-fifths of the stores in that department belonged to the navy. The Government might depend upon it that unless they put the right men into the various departments they would never give satisfaction to the country.
CAPTAIN LEICESTER VERNON
said, the military and civil services were so mixed—he had almost said fused together—in the Orders in Council as to render it all but unintelligible, and it was very evident that the framer of the Order was utterly ignorant of the nature of many of the duties to which it referred. It appeared to him that at the very outset the framer had fallen into an error when he represented the Clerk of the Ordnance as if he had only civil duties to perform, whereas he had important military duties to discharge. The next office was that of Inspector General of Fortifications, held by Sir John Burgoyne, and among the duties which he had to perform were those of the preservation and maintenance of the fabric of all existing fortresses and military buildings, the examination of all plans and projects for fortifications, barracks, and other military works, and the preparation of specifications and estimates of all works connected with fortifications or military buildings. Yet those were called civil duties. Why, the duties performed by Sir J. Burgoyne before Sebastopol might as well be called civil duties. And here he begged permission to make an observation with reference to Sir John Burgoyne's services at Sebastopol. The hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. S. Adair) the other evening stated that Sir John Burgoyne had been deceived as to the strength of Sebastopol; but he had it from that gallant Officer himself that that observation of the hon. Member's was not a correct statement of his opinion. What he said in his evidence was, that he found the place stronger than he had from previous impressions been led to believe, and that he was not of opinion it would have resisted so strongly had the course been adopted which he wished to see pursued, but still he had no doubts but that it would be taken. It might become his (Captain Vernon's) duty at some future period to show the House that that Officer had acted in the most energetic and enterprising manner. On that matter the press had for a time been misled, but it now fully admitted the great and important services rendered by Sir John Burgoyne. The next office laid down in the Order in Council was that of the Deputy Inspector General of Fortifications. Then there were two Assistant Deputy Inspector Generals, at 500l. a year each, and who, it was said, were to perform such duties as it might hereafter be found necessary to devolve upon them. If anything could prove that 1676 the framer of the Order in Council was very inadequately informed as to the nature of the task he had undertaken that particular passage did, for here an office and a salary were named before the duties to be discharged could be defined. The Director General of Contracts, which was a civil office, was held by a gentleman of the name of Howell, and he was bound to say that that gentleman was a perfect man of business, who knew his duties and performed them well. Turning to the military departments, he found, under the head of establishments at Woolwich, a Superintendent of the Royal Gun Factories and a Superintendent of the Royal Carriage Department. Two such offices had been held by Colonel Wilford and Colonel Gambier, but they had been superseded and placed in inferior situations, and other men, but not better men, had been put in their places. He did not find fault with the officers so appointed, but it was of the system that he complained. The next subject to which he should call the attention of the Committee was the office of Superintendent of the Royal Laboratories. That was an appointment which, under a very slight variation of title, had been held by Colonel Wilson, than whom, according to general admission, there was not a better man in the service. Yet he had been superseded by Captain Boxer. He did not wish to detract from the merits of the latter officer, who was undoubtedly a man of great intelligence; yet he thought it hard that Colonel Wilson, who had served his country in various parts of the world, fighting against its enemies, should be superseded by Captain Boxer, who, however excellent as a scientific man, had almost entirely confined his military service abroad to eleven months at Malta. Captain Boxer had been put in the room of Colonel Wilson at an increased rate of salary; and Colonel Wilson, he understood, had received a gratuity of 200l. Giving such a sum to Colonel Wilson was like adding insult to injury. If Colonel Wilson deserved a gratuity, he ought not to have been removed; and if he merited removal, he should not have received a gratuity. He wished to know who made those appointments? He thought it was not the Commander in Chief, nor the Lieutenant General of the Ordnance, nor Major General Cator, the Director General of Artillery. Of course it could not be the hon. Gentleman the Clerk of the Ordnance, nor did he (Captain Vernon) believe it was the Secretary for War who had made these 1677 appointments. Then, was there some other person or influence behind all those authorities by whom such things were done? Upon the whole, he did not see clearly the way in which the new administration of the department was going to work, and he was not very well satisfied with such an account of it as he had received.
said, he must confess that, even after the statement of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Monsell), he was very much at a loss to understand what were the real intentions of the Government. The proposed changes, he believed, were quite contrary to the opinions of the highest military authorities, and it was known that the late Lord Raglan entirely disapproved of them. He (Colonel Dunne) wished to know whether the accounts of the regiment of artillery were to be transferred to the War Department in the same way as the accounts of the rest of the army? Were the arming and clothing of the troops to be placed on the same footing as the rest of the army? He saw that the hon. Gentleman the Clerk of the Ordnance had relieved himself of many of his duties, and that he had placed himself as a general superintendent over all the departments which he called civil, but which he (Colonel Dunne) said in reality were purely military in their natures. That was a most erroneous and inconvenient course, because now there would be a man at the head of those departments who would be totally ignorant of all the details. The duties of that officer were to prepare annually the estimates for Parliament, and generally to superintend and control all the money arrangements connected with the department. Those duties were now transferred to the Inspector of Fortifications. To that officer was also transferred the care of the barracks—a thing with which he had nothing to do. Changes equally questionable were made in reference to the department of contracts, and also in reference to the clothing. There was now no Board at all, but only a director of clothing; and to whomsoever the blame was to be attached, he (Colonel Dunne) had never seen worse clothing than that now furnished to our soldiers. He thought that there ought to be some board to decide upon that clothing with which the soldier could go comfortably into the field. But was the director solely to decide? He was glad that a most gallant officer, who had distinguished himself at Alma, had received that appointment; but was he alone to decide? [Mr. 1678 MONSELL: He would decide on the patterns.] But no substitute for a Board was provided.
§ MR. MONSELL
There could be no alteration made in the clothing of the army without the sanction of the Commander in Chief.
Improvements were every day suggested, and he wished the soldier to obtain the benefit of those improvements. There should, therefore, be some general system of inspection; but that had altogether been left out. He did not think that they could get a proper Director of Stores for 500l. a year.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, he must beg to explain that that sum had been originally fixed on the supposition that the officer appointed could also retain his full pay; but that not being the case, it was proposed that the salary should be 900l. a year.
he must also complain of the mischievous disposition of civilians who were not capable of forming a judgment on professional matters. The Government had taken great credit for the separation of the management of the laboratory from the manufacture of gunpowder. He (Colonel Dunne) could not approve of that arrangement. He was perfectly certain that no change had been proposed which would be for the better. The assistants in the different departments were, he supposed, to be abolished, and thus many young officers would be deprived of appointments which they had held with benefit to the service. There was also to be an alteration in the composition of the scientific Committee at Woolwich, by the introduction of a great number of gentlemen distinguished in science, but whom the country could not sufficiently reward to induce them to give exclusive attention to the different branches of the artillery service. He was afraid that the system about to be established would be pernicious and inconvenient. He had always heard that in 1803, the Ordnance Department was in as bad a state as that to which it had now been brought by the hon. Member for Limerick; but that in 1815, so efficiently was that department managed that our military weapons and equipments were the most perfect in Europe. And how was that improvement effected? Not by placing civilians over the department, but by entrusting its management to military men. By placing properly qualified military men, and not civilians or mere political friends over the Ordnance Depart- 1679 ment, England reached a pitch of military glory far higher than had been attained by any other European nation. But the state of that department was far different now. He did not believe that our army before Sebastopol was furnished with good arms, guns, powder or shells. Of course, the subject was a delicate one, and he did not wish to reveal anything which it would be injudicious to publish; but he warned hon. Gentlemen that some failure might occur in the operations of our army, in consequence of the bad weapons and materials with which they were furnished. That was not merely his own opinion. Men of much greater military experience, and who were better qualified to pronounce an opinion upon the subject, entertained a similar apprehension.
§ ADMIRAL WALCOTT
said, he could only express a hope that the new system would work as well as the old, and that it would produce results equally creditable to the service.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he wished for an explanation of the increase in the charge for advertisements, stamps, travelling expenses, gazettes, and other contingencies, which, from 2,810l., had risen in the present year to 5,210l. All those items ought to be submitted separately, instead of being taken together in one sum. Many complaints had been made of the difficulties which were thrown in the way of persons who had new inventions to submit to the Government, but he hoped that those difficulties were only the temporary consequences of the changes which had been going on, and that for the future no such difficulties would be met with. He regretted exceedingly to find that the Changes which had been made had not been productive of a greater saving of expense.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, that the real question was not with regard to the saving of expenditure in the management of the departments, but would the plan of consolidation, or would it not, give efficiency to the public service. That could only be tested by experience, but he rejoiced to see that no hon. Gentleman had found fault with the main principle of central control and individual responsibility. Under the old military system those principles, he believed, were entirely set aside. He could not doubt that the new plan would produce most satisfactory results—indeed, he believed that during the six weeks during which it had been in opera- 1680 tion, it had already produced most important results. He now observed in all the military departments much greater efficiency and energy than were seen there before the introduction of the new plan. His hon. Friend the member for North Northamptonshire (Mr. Stafford), had blamed the noble Lord at the head of the Government because the plan had not been earlier submitted to the House; but it was not the fault of his noble Friend that it had not been laid before the House till now. Six weeks ago, he (Mr. Monsell) was ready to submit it to the House, but he was prevented from doing so by the many Motions which had been made by hon. Members, which occupied a great deal of the time of the House without leading to any results. The hon. Member for North Northamptonshire had also asked what would be the financial position of the Secretary at War under the new arrangement. Under the old system, said the hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for War was a check in financial matters, upon the Secretary at War; but that now, when there was only one War Secretary, there would be no such check. The Secretary at War, under the new arrangement, would be submitted to the same checks as every other head of a Government department was subject to. The Secretary at War would not have the power to expend a single farthing more than a Committee of Supply of the whole House might permit him to expend. He would be bound by the Votes granted by the House of Commons. Under the new arrangement the whole of the Military Estimates of every description would be submitted to the House at one and the same time by the gentleman who might have the honour to hold the position now held by himself (Mr. Monsell). The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Dunne) had asked what would be the position of the Commander in Chief under the new arrangement. The Commander in Chief's position would be in no way changed, except with regard to some additional duties which the new plan would devolve upon him, in consequence of the abolition of the office of Master General of the Ordnance. The Commander in Chief would be no more nor no less connected with the Secretary for War after, than before the new arrangement. The hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. W. Ewart) had asked why the Government had not proceeded to manufacture guns upon the plan suggested by Mr. Nasmyth. The 1681 Government were about to test the value of Mr. Nasmyth's gun in a few days. The hon. and gallant Member for Chatham (Capt. Vernon), had asked in whose hands was the appointment of the officers who had been nominated in the Order in Council. Their appointment rested with the Secretary at War, who consulted with the Commander in Chief. The clothing of the army could not be altered without the consent of the Commander in Chief, who would consult the Director General of Clothing with respect to the clothing of the army. That he believed was the course that had been pursued with respect to the cavalry equipments which had been issued within the last few days. With regard to those gentlemen who had been appointed by the Secretary at War to very responsible situations in the military department, all he would say was, that however well qualified to act in ordinary times, those gentlemen were not so well qualified as their successors to discharge their duties in a time of war.
said, he shared the regrets of the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. W. Williams), in reference to the results of the recent arrangements. The clothing he was certain could be done much cheaper than it was now done. The clothing supplied to the soldiers of the French army was not only cheaper, but it was much better. If there was any profession in the world in which central control and individual responsibility were desirable, it was the military profession. It was most injurious to the service to put civilians into the military offices; and he had no hesitation in saying that in the recent changes the best men had not been put into the best places. They were not at all acquainted with the subordination of the army, and they were really not the beat men for the performance of the duties that were to be performed.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, that nothing could be worse than the old clothing system. The clothing of the Marines, which was done by the Admiralty, was 17 per cent lower than that supplied to the line by the colonel. The present clothing of the militia was absolutely discreditable, and that was done by the colonels. ["No, no!"]
said, the militia were clothed by the Ordnance; and certainly he had never seen such abominable red baize as that of which the men's uniforms were made.
said, he must take exception to a Vote of 300l. for a private secretary to the Clerk of the Ordnance. It had not been customary to allow salaries for private secretaries except to those Officers of State who were usually Members of the Cabinet. Even the First Commissioner of Works in Lord Aberdeen's Government, who was a Member of the Cabinet, was only allowed 150l. a year for a private secretary, though that sum was afterwards increased to 300l.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, he should certainly consider it a great advantage if he were allowed the Vote, inasmuch as it would enable him to procure the services of a military man as private secretary.
said, he would admit that that might, perhaps, be a sufficient justification of the Vote, but he hoped that the subject would be a little more considered next year.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford in his observations on the Vote in question. They had never yet pretended to allow any adequate remuneration for the services of private secretaries; and the proposed Vote might form a precedent for a large increase in the salaries of those gentlemen.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum, not exceeding 70,566l., be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expense of the Ordnance Office, which will come in course of payment during the year ending the 31st day of March 1856.
put, and agreed to.
§ (6.) 74,506l. Wages of Artificers and Labourers.
§ MR. MONTAGU CHAMBERS
said, that the foremen at Woolwich had been put under stoppage, which had had the effect of reducing their wages below those received by ordinary workmen. Those stoppages had not been enforced, and the men were now anxious to obtain their back pay. He had also to complain of the reduction, without notice, of the wages of the workmen employed by night in the Lancaster shell factory. Such sudden reductions might lead to very serious consequences. He was informed that the wages given in the Royal Arsenal were beneath those in private establishments. He thought it extremely important that those matters should be made the subject of investigation.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (7.) 766,632l. Ordnance Stores.
§ MR. MONTAGU CHAMBERS
said, he had been told that there were a number of iron plates in the Arsenal which had been intended for Lancaster shells, and which had cost 7,000l. or 8,000l., but which were quite useless. The wheels of the waggons supplied for the Land Transport Corps bad also been spoken of in terms that would imply that they had not been very carefully inspected.
said, that that was the last department respecting which he should have expected to hear complaints, but he would make inquiries. The iron plates had been put aside in consequence of improvements which had been discovered in the fabrication of the Lancaster shell since its first invention.
§ Vote agreed to; as was also
§ (8.) 300l. Dr. Southwood Smith.
(9.) Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum, not exceeding 15,000l., be granted to Her Majesty, for the purpose of erecting, in the year ending on the 31st day of March 1856, a Building of corrugated iron as a Museum, on the land at Kensington-gore acquired by the Commissioners for the Exhibition of 1851.
§ MR. SPOONER
said, it was his intention to take the sense of the Committee on the Vote. When the House, in 1852, voted the sum of 150,000l., in order, with the 150,000l. remaining in the hands of the Commissioners, to purchase the land, they were told that nothing would be done until the whole plan had been submitted to Parliament. Last year, again, when 25,000l. was granted to purchase a piece of land adjoining, the pledge which had thus been given by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Disraeli) was repeated by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell); and he (Mr. Spooner) warned the Committee against entering upon an expenditure of which they could not foresee the end. In his opinion, the distance from London at which it was proposed to erect the museum was too great for the mass of the inhabitants of the metropolis to avail themselves of its advantages. The object for which the Vote was asked might be a proper and a desirable one in time of peace, but, considering the burdens imposed upon the country, he thought the Committee ought to pause before they agreed to an expenditure of which the present was but an instalment, and with respect to which no detailed plan had been laid before them.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, the hon. Gentleman who spoke last, entirely misconceived the object of the Vote. He appeared to think that the Vote was to be applied to the beginning of a vast building, which would take a great deal of time to erect, which would cost a large sum of money, and which would proceed upon a plan which ought to be submitted to Parliament. In fine, he appeared to think that the Vote was to be the commencement of a great building for the accommodation of the scientific associations of the metropolis. That, however, was not the case, and the expense would be limited to the amount of the present Vote. The facts of the case were these—The public had already purchased a great number of specimens connected with science, arts, manufactures, and the education of the people, and those things were put away in places where they were practically inaccessible to the persons for whose advantage they had been collected. They were somewhat in the position of the library of Mr. Heber, which was packed away in cases and trunks in different warehouses, where it was inaccessible even to the persons to whom it belonged. The object of the Vote was to avoid a similar inconvenience, by the construction of a cheap and durable iron building at a comparatively small cost by means of which the Government would be enabled to arrange those different collections in such a way as to be useful for the purposes for which they were created. It was very well to say "We are engaged in the prosecution of a great war, and we can only afford to pay for the war," and that argument might apply with considerable force if the proposed Vote was on account of a large building which might require great additional expenditure to complete it. That, however, was not the case, and the Government were only asking for 15,000l., which had nothing whatever to do with the extensive buildings which might hereafter be erected on the ground, but which would he devoted to the purpose of utilising and rendering available the expenses which had already been incurred. He hoped the Committee would agree to the Vote, which, he believed, would accomplish a very useful purpose, and tend in an essential degree to the encouragement of art and the improvement of the public taste.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he looked upon the Vote as the commencement of an expenditure which some persons calculated at hundreds of thousands, and others at 1685 millions. He thought, before agreeing to such a Vote, the Committee ought to have some idea of the ultimate cost of the building with which it was intended to cover the large piece of land at Kensington-gore—a building, too, which was universally complained of as likely to be at too great a distance from the metropolis for the people to make a proper use of it. He would suggest that the Vote should be withdrawn for the present, in order that the Committee might know what the scheme was, and what the probable cost of carrying out would be.
said, he was quite sure that neither of his hon. Friends was aware of the real object and character of the Vote. He would not advert now to the distance of the property from the metropolis, because that was a point which they must assume had been disposed of satisfactorily at the time when the land was purchased. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) had alluded to the pledge given by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) and repeated by the Government of Lord Aberdeen, that the House of Commons should be made fully cognisant of the intentions of the Government, and should have an opportunity of passing its judgment upon the plans proposed before any expenditure was entered into; and he appeared to think that the Vote now proposed was more or less a departure from that pledge. To him (Mr. Gladstone), on the contrary, it seemed that the Vote was proposed in perfect consistency with, and, even he would add, in fulfilment of that pledge. It was in contemplation to cover the land at Kensington-gore (the extent of which had been considerably understated at sixty acres) with buildings devoted to purposes for which the land was originally bought. How much would it cost to erect such buildings? Undoubtedly an enormous sum of money. The utmost liberality on the part of the House of Commons would not supply sufficient funds to accomplish the whole design within a considerable number of years, and he ventured to say that very few of those present would live to see that site fully covered, and the great design of the Commission entirely accomplished. So strongly did he feel on the subject that, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, he had urged upon the Commission that it would be exceedingly wise to devise some means for the profitable occupation of a portion of the ground during the long interval which must elapse before the whole could be covered. 1686 Here was a capital of something like 350,000l.—a sum of money which was very economically laid out, and which it would be easy to realize with a profit if they were willing to dispose of the land; here was a capital of 350,000l. lying almost entirely dead. Now, it certainly was not desirable that it should so lie dead; but would it have been wise on the part of the Government, in the present position of the nation, to bring forth a magnificent scheme for covering that ground with permanent buildings, and to come down to the House of Commons with a Vote for the commencement of those buildings, which could not have amounted to much less than 150,000l. to 200,000l., though that would not have carried them forward any sensible distance in working out the design? If that course had been followed, his hon. Friends might, indeed, have found fault with Her Majesty's Government for departing from their pledge, and they might fairly have doubted whether, at that moment, it was wise to commence a large expenditure of that kind, which must necessarily entail a progressive annual grant of very large sums. Under present circumstances, however, no blame could attach to the Government for not having set in motion that machinery which they had promised, with a view to the accomplishment of that great scheme. What was it that the Government had done? Having in their possession many valuable and interesting objects of art, which they were unable to exhibit because they had no place in which to exhibit them, and having also in their possession a valuable site with nothing standing upon it, they had come forward with a simple and rational plan for the erection of a temporary building in which they proposed to provide accommodation for those objects. 15,000l. was no doubt a considerable sum to expend for such a purpose; but if they were to hire apartments capable of containing those works of art, not only the interest of 15,000l., but a much larger sum would soon be expended. It was purely a provisional arrangement that the Committee were called upon to sanction. The building, when erected, would be worth a great part of the money expended upon it as old iron, and the Commissioners themselves stated in their letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer,—Irrespective of its simplicity and cheapness, and the remarkable facility with which it can be constructed, it enjoys the great advantage, in a pecuniary point of view, of being designed of a 1687 material which possesses a permanent pecuniary value, to which the cost of the labour employed in its construction bears only a small proportion. While, therefore, it could, on the one hand, be at any time taken down and re-erected, if necessary, on another site, or in another form, at a very trifling expense, it could, on the other, be resold, should circumstances render it hereafter desirable, at no great deterioration of value; while, should it be found necessary, on the contrary, to enlarge it, in consequence of additional accommodation being required, the cost of so doing would be considerably less in proportion to the original cost, inasmuch as only two of the four sides would have to be extended.If they were about to lay the foundation-stone of some structure that would be useless hereafter unless great additions were made to it, the objections of his hon. Friend (Mr. Spooner) would apply; but, on the contrary, they were about to make an outlay complete in itself, though for a certain specific purpose, of a temporary character. The Committee would incur no risk whatever in giving their assent to the Vote, and it appeared to him eminently rational that they should cover in portions of the ground from time to time according to the wants of existing establishments.
§ MR. BELL
said, he was prepared to assent to the Vote on the clear understanding that by so doing he would not be bound to further proceedings hereafter. He had heard a rumour that a plan had been prepared for the permanent occupation of the ground in question, and he was anxious to know whether, before any permanent building was erected, full and ample notice would be given the House?
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, that as a Member of the Government that originally proposed the purchase of the property, he felt that there was not the slightest foundation for the rumours referred to by his hon. Friend (Mr. Spooner). He referred to his (Mr. Disraeli) having described the investment as a desirable purchase and he could assure his hon. Friend that if a desirable purchase was the purchase of an article that you could sell for more than you gave for it, that was a definition which applied to the Kensington-gore estate. If it were the desire to sell the estate they could obtain a much more considerable sum than they originally gave for it. His hon. Friend had stated that there was an engagement that no commencement of building should take place without the matter being fully before the House; and he could assure his hon. Friend that that engagement had been rigidly kept. His hon. Friend and also the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. Wil- 1688 liams) were mistaken when they confounded the present proposition with the scheme that was previously brought before Parliament, for there was really no connection between the Vote that was now proposed and the scheme that was then brought before Parliament. A necessity had arisen that some arrangement should be made for the reception of certain collections, and the only place where, in fact, the arrangement could be brought about, was this very estate. Now, what was the origin of the Vote? They had had, for a long series of years, the offer of Collections for the possession and advantage of the country, which had been accepted, and the articles had been stowed in cellars, or placed in warehouses; and others had been refused in consequence of not having power to receive them; until at last the Society of Arts, which was in possession of a valuable collection of a scientific character, offered to present it to the nation, on the condition that it should be not only received, but exhibited for the advantage of the country. They were then obliged either to refuse to take that collection, on the plea that they really had no means of exhibiting it for the advantage of the people to whom it was presented, or they might come to Parliament and ask them to take that step that for the honour and advantage of the country they should adopt. Having at that moment a large quantity of pictures of an interesting character at Marlborough House, where they could not remain for long, and where they were now in a position which was not, he might say, decent, and having also a collection in reference to arts and sciences which could not be preserved there long, and which was not accessible to the country; it was necessary to take some steps to provide a suitable building for their accommodation. An estimate was offered for raising a building of glass and iron for 12,000l., which building would, he believed, cover more than an acre of land, and would give ample opportunity of exhibiting those treasures to the country. They had entered most minutely into all the details of the building, and had added 3,000l. for fitting it up, which made the total of 15,000l. for the building. He begged the Committee not to suppose that there was any intention to commence the great structures referred to in the first instance. It was in the power of the country to obtain, in a comparatively short space of time, a magnificent museum of art and science 1689 without any cost to itself beyond that of raising a structure which would be worthy of the reception of such treasures. His hon. Friend (Mr. Spooner) should remember that the temporary building which was now contemplated had nothing to do with the original plan to which he had referred—a plan which he hoped one day would be adequately carried out.
§ LORD WILLIAM GRAHAM
said, he did not rise to object to the Vote, as he looked upon it as an experiment. The only objection to the site was its position, and if that did not prevent people from resorting to it, that objection would be answered.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, that had the case been a clear one neither the right hon. Gentleman near him (Mr. Gladstone) nor the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken would have been obliged to expend so many words upon it. The Committee were about to be led into a trap from which there would afterwards be no escape. He understood that the land which cost 350,000l. might now be sold for a sum exceeding that amount. Therefore, in reality, the question was a new one. The House of Commons was not yet absolutely committed to any expenditure from which it might not escape; and it was really worth while for them to consider what they were asked to do, before they gave the proposition their sanction. They were told that what was wanted was a temporary building—a sort of railway shed—to hold models, patent inventions and so forth. Well, but after it had been erected, half a dozen gentlemen, a small clique connected with Marlborough House and the Society of Arts, would pull the strings again, and the House would be told that the building was wholly insufficient for the objects accumulated, and that it was not creditable to the country that a large collection of valuable objects should remain in a building which was only fit to be a warehouse or a railway terminus. Thus they might be launched on an expenditure which would extend over a period of fifty years. They had been told by an ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had devoted great attention to matters of that kind, that if they once sanctioned the plan now proposed, it was probable that the youngest member of the House would not see an end to the expenditure it would involve. He (Mr. Bright) remembered the time when that House was asked to consent to a Vote of 400,000l. for the establishment of docks at Keyham, and 1690 the result was that some 700,000l. or 800,000l. had already been expended upon that undertaking. A Committee had been appointed to inquire into the subject and they reported that the scheme was a blunder, and that, if it had not been carried out so far, they would not have recommended the expenditure of another sixpence upon it. He thought when the country was spending large sums of money for objects certainly a great deal worse than that now under discussion, that the House was not justified in commencing a plan which might land them in an expenditure of 1,000,000l. or 2,000,000l. He did not know what the object of the plan was, but they were all aware that there were a number of very shrewd and clever Gentlemen, who, ostensibly studying the public good, paid great regard to "Number One," and found themselves comfortably settled with salaries of 1,000l., or 2,000l. a-year. His own opinion was, that it was only the beginning of a huge job.
§ MR. W. J. FOX
said, he hoped his hon. Friend the Member for Manchester would prove a true prophet—that other collections would be offered to the public, and that other buildings would be required to place them in; and that the House of Commons would, for the honour of the nation, provide the requisite accommodation. The proposed expenditure would, however, be complete in itself; it would be an outlay of 15,000l. for a definite, distinct, and useful purpose, and nothing more.
§ MR. MITCHELL
said, he doubted whether the spot chosen was not too far west. He was sorry, however, that the Government did not intend to commence the scheme on a much more extensive scale.
§ MR. SPOONER
said, he was opposed to the whole plan of the building at Kensington gore, and therefore should put every obstacle in the way of beginning the proposed scheme. He was ready to divide the Committee on the Vote.
§ MR. LOCKE
said, he should oppose the Vote, on the ground that a pledge had been given that before any step was taken for the erection of buildings, the House would have a full opportunity of considering the matter. He believed, also, that Kensington-gore was too distant from town for the objects intended. Professional men and the various societies with which they were connected would never be induced to go so far in that direction.
§ MR. BOUVERIE
said, he must remind the hon. Gentleman that the proposal 1691 before the Committee had nothing to do with the great scheme for locating all the scientific societies under one building to which he had referred.
§ MR. CUBITT
said, the question was whether the Committee would consent to the erection of a temporary building for the reception of many valuable collections which it was desirable the country should have the advantage of? Though we were in a state of war there were thousands of people whose minds were directed towards the study of science and art; and those collections, many of them of an educational character, would be of great assistance to such persons in their inquiries. At present much time and money were spent in making and reinventing things already done, but not generally known. Things were lying concealed which, if placed in a public building, accessible to all, would be of great value, both in saving time and expense, and in leading to important improvements. For such an object 15,000l. was a sum very trifling indeed.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, that the pledge he had given had reference to the erection of a permanent building, and what he wished to convey to the Committee was, that he would never sanction the erection of a permanent building without the whole scheme being laid before Parliament; but that pledge did not refer to a proposition for a temporary building like the one under consideration.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided; Ayes 85; Noes 33; Majority 52.
§ Vote agreed to. House resumed.